Monday, April 15, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: M for MANU, the tiger

 

MANU is the name I gave the tiger in my historical fiction novel. The young princess of Kongunadu, Chamundeswari, brings the little tiger cub to her palace, when he is found near his dead mother’s carcass. The little princess is also orphaned when the king and queen die in a palace fire. Princess and pet grow together to make a powerful team. 

I recall watching a Tamil film when I was in school. It had the villain having a tiger for a pet. I have always been fascinated with this idea, especially when I heard from a cousin that people living in the US had wild animals for pets. At least, that’s what he told me in the 1970s. I don’t know the present scenario.

Finally, I could give vent to my imagination when I wrote my second historical romance fiction called THE REBEL PRINCESS, where Princess Chamundeshwari has a pet tiger called MANU.

The princess is glad to have Manu’s company in her lonely life, especially surrounded by enemies. While Manu is generally docile, he could turn into a predator if he finds his mistress under threat. 


Read some excerpts featuring Manu:
SCENE 1

Just before dawn, Vijayendran woke up with a jerk when he heard Manu snarl. Wide awake even as he sat up on the wall, he watched in astonishment when Manu sprang down from the wall into the garden and loped further ahead towards the back door of the house. What must have set the tiger off?

He quickly jumped down from the wall too and took off behind Manu, doing his best to remain as silent as possible. He stopped and moved behind a tree when he saw Manu facing a man who was trembling from head to foot, obviously on coming across the fully grown tiger in the garden. Vijayendran could see the man’s hand—the one in which he was holding a kuthuval—shake, so much so he was on the verge of dropping the dagger. 

As for Manu, he was preparing to leap on the man, stretching his sleek body, building pressure on his front paws.

Vijayendran was curious to know what the tiger would do. It was obvious that Manu was completely tame and too well fed to crave human flesh. But it was also evident the tiger had sensed danger in the man. It was not just the fact he was a stranger. After all, had Manu not befriended Vijayendran the very first time they met?

The prince could see the man was up to no good. Or why would be come here before dawn when everyone tended to sleep like the dead? 

Manu leaped suddenly and the man screamed, the dagger falling out of his hand in a clatter. He was lying on the floor with the huge tiger’s front paws on his chest.

Vijayendran laughed softly even as he stepped out of his hiding place from behind the tree and walked to the rear doorway of the house where the man was sprawled on his back, abject terror in his face.

As for Manu, he growled deeply, showing his sharp incisors, obviously scaring the man out of his wits. 

SCENE 2

Princess Chamundeswari automatically turned in the direction he was pointing at and her eyes and mouth went wide in astonishment when she caught sight of a number of peacocks and peahens not all that far from them. Three of the peacocks had opened their feathers out to the fullest extent, turning this way and that as they wooed their mates. 

She laughed out loud when she heard the raucous calls the birds exchanged. “Looking at their beauty, one would imagine they would have lovely voices, right?” She laughed again when the peacocks and peahens once again screamed to each other. 

Suddenly, Manu, who had been sleeping on the top of his cage, leaped down and raced across the forest, scattering the ostentation of the colourful birds as they flew up on to the tree branches. 

“Naughty Manu! Come here,” called the princess, laughing some more.

Vijayendran was speechless as he stared at her. The angry woman he had known over the past three days had completely disappeared. In her place was a laughing princess who had jumped off her horse to race after Manu who was about to climb the tree as he chased the peacocks. The prince got down from his horse, a cheerful smile on his handsome face as he took in the lovely scene where the beautiful princess of Kongunadu chased her gentle tiger Manu which in turn was growling at the escaped peacocks. Looping Kethu’s reins around a tree branch, he leaned against the trunk to watch the scene around him. 

Anagha pushed the curtain to one side to look out of the carriage when she heard Princess Chamundeswari’s laughter and was thoroughly amused by Manu’s antics. Just as she wondered if she should get down to go help her mistress, Chamundeswari caught her pet by the scruff of his neck and ordered him back to his cage. 

“If you do not behave, Manu, I will have to lock you in your cage, do you hear?” she scolded him affectionately.

Manu gave a soft growl of acknowledgement before rubbing his head against her sari-clad leg, making it difficult for her to walk. Which only made Princess Chamundeswari laugh all the more. Soon, the two of them, woman and tiger, were rolling on the grass in a mock tug of war. 

Gentle laughter and soft growls permeated the air as Vijayendran and Anagha watched on in amusement.


Saturday, April 13, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: L for LOVE… NO CONDITIONS ASKED

 

LOVE… NO CONDITIONS ASKED is a standalone romance novel following the story of Shrikant and Savita. I introduced the two of them in another novel of mine, and felt an urge to write one specially for them. 

While many people have loved the bold premise to this story, some have hated it. All I can say is NONE OF US ARE PERFECT! Which is exactly the theme of this book—that love has no conditions. 

When they appeared in GROUNDED (Book 3 of The Groom Series), they had already been married for fourteen years, and had a preteen daughter too.

I decided to start their romance in the middle of their marriage, instead of going back in time and writing about their falling in love for the first time. Though I have woven the story in such a fashion that it goes back and forth to their past and present. 

This book is available on Kindle and is free on Kindle Unlimited. 


Story-in-Brief:

“I want a divorce.” Shrikant is shaken when his wife of sixteen years greets him with those terrible words when he lands in Singapore, after being separated from her for two long years because of the lockdown which had crippled the world.

Savita knows that she doesn’t deserve a wonderful man like Shrikant, even though she loves him from the bottom of her heart. Which is the reason why she’s ready to leave him; and their teenage daughter, forever.

His heart refuses to let him believe that the woman he loves more than life itself, wants to divorce him. And he tries his best to dissuade her from taking such a drastic step.

But will she listen to him? And what about Shrikant, is his love strong enough to face the truth of why Savita wants to go her separate way?

You can stalk her @
      

Friday, April 12, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: K for KICKASS KHANNAS

 

KICKASS KHANNAS is a multi-book series I have been planning for at least two years. The novels surround the lives of the seven Khanna siblings who live in Delhi. 

To begin with, seven siblings in one family was kind of difficult even for me to swallow. But then I thought, “What the hell? This is how I want the series to be.” Please bear with me, my readers. But somewhere along the way while planning this series, Karan Johar’s spirit has come to live in me, I think. 

I introduced the Khanna family in my book SHAAN GETS HITCHED, which is a part of the MALHOTRAS series. 

I also conducted a contest whether to call them “Kickass” or “Khiladi” and KICKASS KHANNAS won with the bigger number of votes. 

I am planning to release the first couple of books in the second half of 2024. In this blog, I am revealing the titles, along with the name of the sibling each book belongs to. 


MONDAY’S CHILD is fair of face – Jheel Khanna

TUESDAY’S CHILD is full of grace – Yuvraj Khanna

WEDNESDAY’S CHILD is full of woe – Shirina Khanna

THURSDAY’S CHILD has far to go – Raunaq Khanna

FRIDAY’S CHILD is loving and giving – Barkha Khanna

SATURDAY’S CHILD works hard for its living – Dhruv Khanna

SUNDAY’S CHILD is fair & wise & good in every way – Harsh Khanna

If you have any questions regarding these books, you are welcome to ask them in the comments section. 


Thursday, April 11, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: J for JAMIE SCOTT

 

ROSE GARDEN INTERNATIONAL, the 2nd book in The Bansal Legacy trilogy, is an interracial romance.

It is the story of Rhea Bansal and Jamie Scott. So, it is J for Jamie Scott this tenth day of April for the blogging challenge 2024.

Jamie hails from Australia. He’s curious to visit Ooty, a hill station in South India, mainly because his grandmother had spoken to him a lot about it.

His grandparents had fallen in love with Ooty and set up house there during the British Raj, and had later moved to Australia when India became independent in 1947. In fact, his own father had been born in Ooty. His grandmother had left all her memories of the Indian hill station in the form of her diaries.

Jamie makes a sudden decision to check his roots in India and catches a flight. Was it his destiny calling out to him? Read this romance novel about Jamie and Rhea to know more. The book is available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and as a Paperback.

 

Sample Chapter from my book:

Rhea didn’t realise she had been looking out for him. But her heart picked up tempo when Jamie entered the reception from a side door. Dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans and a jade green full-sleeved t-shirt, the same shade as his eyes, he was truly a sight for sore eyes. She had put in too many hours at work and had been sorry to cancel their dinner plans. It was almost 9 pm and she needed to eat. She wondered if he had had his dinner. Well, the only way to find out was to ask.

She walked forward to meet him halfway, giving him a soft smile. “Hey!” His hair was damp, probably from a shower, she thought. His eyes were red-rimmed. Would he be too tired to spend an hour or so with her? 

Jamie looked at Rhea. Though beautiful, she looked beat. “Hey,” he grinned, “Are you still working?”

She shook her head. “Just got done. Have you had your dinner?”

“Nope. And you?”

Rhea grinned now. “Not yet. I know it’s rather late. But would you mind sharing a meal with me?”

Jamie laughed. “I ne’er stopped hoping. Do you want to go out? Any specific place in mind?”

Rhea shook her head. “The local joints will be closing as we talk. Actually, if you don’t mind, shall we order a meal over at my place? We’ll order whatever you want to have,” she tempted him.

Would he mind?! Jamie jumped at the chance. “I’m game. Lead me.”

Rhea laughed, thrilled at his response. “Come along then.” She took his hand to walk to the other end of the reception and stepped out into the cold air. “Are you okay? It’s so cold.”

Jamie shrugged, holding on to her hand, liking the feel of it. “I just had a swim in the hot pool. I must say it was a fabulous experience.”

No wonder his hair was still damp. “I’m glad you’re enjoying the hotel’s facilities. So, where did you go for the day?” 

They had reached the wicket gate by now. Jamie opened the latch and let her walk ahead of him, following right behind her. “I took the toy train and went all the way down the mountains.”

Rhea opened the double door with a brass key. “Welcome to my home,” she said, walking in.

Jamie stared, his jaw dropping. From the outside, the building had appeared like a small cottage with a tiled roof. But they had entered a living room which seemed to go on forever. “This is lovely,” he said, turning to look at her.

“Make yourself at home, Jamie,” she said, pointing him to a comfortable couch. “What would you like to drink?”

“Some brandy, if you have it.”

“Brandy it is. Soda?” asked Rhea, turning to a well-stocked bar to remove a glass from a shelf. 

Jamie walked up to her, wondering how many people lived in the house. The bar seemed to have a large collection of liquor. Seeing his gaze on them, Rhea laughed. “I have two brothers who love their drinks, just like our father. It was Ritvik who insisted on adding all that stuff.”

“Do they live here?”

Rhea turned around from the fridge from where she had been getting some ice cubes. “No. It’s only me.”

She managed the hotel, she had said. Jamie brushed away his curiosity about the size of her abode. He took the bottle of soda from her hand and opened it before pouring it over the brandy and ice in his glass. “Aren’t you having anything?”

“I plan to. But I desperately need a shower before that. Let me light the fire before going to have one. Just give me ten minutes.” While there was central heating, Rhea had always thought a fire was way more fun.

“Why don’t you go and have your shower? I’ll light the fire,” offered Jamie.

“Are you sure?”

Jamie grinned. “Of course! And I’ll keep your drink ready for you. What’s your poison?”

“Hmm... I’m wondering. I prefer cocktails. Maybe I’ll order something from the hotel.”

“Allow me. I’ll make a cocktail for you. Something sweet or you prefer tangy?”

“A bit of both? With lots of ice. That’d be awesome. I’ll see you soon,” she said, walking to the left side and disappearing through a doorway.

Jamie took a sip of his brandy before going to the grate. Logs were neatly piled and ready to be lit. He took some kindling and set it going in no time. No, he wasn’t going to think of a nude Rhea standing under the shower. Shaking his head, Jamie went to the bar and removed a tall glass and filled half of it with crushed ice. Adding some vodka, raspberry liqueur and amaretto liqueur, he squeezed the juice of half a lemon into it. He topped it with lemon-lime soda and stirred the drink, all set for Rhea. 

Taking his own glass, Jamie walked to the floor-length window overlooking the hotel which seemed like something out of a fairy tale. He gazed at it unseeingly, sipping from his glass. He couldn’t wait for Rhea to join him. 

He turned around when he felt her presence and stared unblinking at the sveltely-clad woman who had walked back into the living room in exactly ten minutes as promised. The length of her graceful legs was enhanced by white stilettos. Her chiffon dress of deep red with a swirling white pattern fell a few inches short of her knees. Her curly hair tumbled down her shoulders all the way to her waist. Jamie lifted her cocktail glass and walked over to her, his eyes never leaving her face. 

Rhea’s breath was coming in soft gasps. She had made an effort to dress up after a long, long time; it had been a while since she had felt the urge to. A sizzle went up her arm when her fingers brushed against his as she took the drink from him. “Cheers!” Her voice hoarse, she raised the glass in a toast, touching it to his.

“Cheers!”


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: I for ISHIKA CHATTERJEE

The heroine of my romance novel called THE FLOUNDERING AUTHOR, Ishika Chatterjee is the commissioning editor of a major publishing house in Delhi. I find a lot of women from Bengal who work for the media, have an excellent command of the King’s language, which is why I gave Ishika a Bengali background.

Ishika is attracted to Jai Wadhwa, who aspires to become a published author. And she sincerely believes that his book is worthy of being part of Cooper Publishing House’s catalogue, the company she works for. But the CEO of the publishing house tries to manipulate Ishika in the worst way possible. 

Does she take it lying down? Never! Ishika is not only beautiful, but one hundred per cent bold. She does something which anyone who is trying to climb the corporate ladder would never dare to do. Read my book to find out how she handles the situation. 

THE FLOUNDERING AUTHOR (available on Kindle Unlimited & Paperback) is the 3rd book in the WADHWAS trilogy, the first two being FINDING ANYA (Dev Wadhwa) and LEO’S DESIRE (Chaahat Wadhwa). Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t allow one book to be placed in two different categories. While Leo’s Desire is the 2nd book in the Wadhwas trilogy, it is also the second book in my Written in the Stars 6-book series.

All the books can be read as standalone novels.  

Story-in-Brief:

Jai Wadhwa aspires to be a published author only to find that the path he has chosen is full of thorns. He’s almost on the verge of giving up his dream when Ishika Chatterjee walks into his life.

The commissioning editor of a major publishing house based in Delhi, Ishika is keen to have Jai’s book as part of Cooper Publishing House India’s catalogue, only to find her path blocked from all directions.

Heartbroken, Jai goes underground to lick his wounds. Will he ever get to realise his dream or is it doomed forever?

While Ishika isn’t one to give up so easily on a project she strongly believes in, she has nothing less than a battle on her hands. And what about the floundering author himself—the one she has fallen in love with? Will he take on the world and launch his writing career or fade away to nothing?

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: H for HEARTTHROB

 

HEARTTHROB is the second book in the Arora Iyers trilogy, which I spoke about in my first blog for the April Challenge 2024, for the alphabet A. 

It is the story of Krutika, who is barely thirteen, and absolutely confident that she’s in love with the sixteen-year-old Darsh, who is her best friend’s older brother.

It is only later that Krutika’s single father gets married to Darsh’s single mother (Once Bitten Twice Lucky). Not for anything does Krutika give up her love, even going to the point of announcing her intention to marry her stepbrother as soon as she turns eighteen.

Is Darsh embarrassed by his stepsister’s announcement? Not really, especially not with the support he receives from his mother and stepfather. 

But what about Krutika’s wish? Does it come true? Will Darsh fall for her, or no? Read my romance novel to know what happens. 

Story-in-Brief:

Krutika falls headlong in love at the tender age of thirteen when she first sets eyes on the dreamy Darsh. That he is barely sixteen seems oh-so-perfect to the barely-there teenager. She never stops loving him when her father ties the knot with his mother soon afterwards.

Darsh has always led a serious life, his responsibilities as the man of the house weighing heavily upon his young shoulders as his birth father never showed interest in his own family. Later, when his mother remarries his stepfather, he could have lightened up, but it never comes naturally to the young man.

With Krutika chasing him blatantly, Darsh really doesn’t have a place to hide, not even in Boston which is as far as he could get, away from Delhi.

How long will he be able to stall the call of destiny? And a determined young lady who has decided to make him her life partner? And what about love? Will he ever find it?

Read this story which is both young-adult and growing-up-together, all rolled up in one; but nonetheless a hot romance.

Monday, April 8, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: G for THE GROOM SERIES

There are going to be four items for the letter ‘G’.

The first is the title of my book trilogy: THE GROOM SERIES. These stories are about three sisters from a village in Bihar, India. Not just bold and beautiful, Surekha, Radhika, and Vaishali, are also ambitious.

Daughters of a poor carpenter, the three young women lead their lives exactly the way they choose (all thanks to their father) despite the restrictions placed by society; so far as to even thumb their noses at such hurdles.



I am excited about the fact that I coined the word Groomnapped (Groom + kidnapped). This book follows the story of the feisty Surekha and the handsome Ameya, who is the only son of a millionaire farmer. See what happens when they fall in love. 

This is also about the dowry system which dogs the women of Bihar. The richer the groom, the more dowry is demanded. To thwart this, some have got into the habit of kidnapping young men and forcing them to tie the knot with poor young women at the point of a gun. I have based my story on this, hoping to bring a light-hearted angle to the same.
 

I simply love this word and was truly thrilled when I could make it the title for my second book in The Groom Series. This is the story of the village-born Radhika, and the city-bred Amit. They fall in love at first sight during Radhika’s sister’s groomnapped wedding; Amit being a friend of Ameya’s. They get married and she goes to live in a joint family with her husband and his parents in Delhi. 

Things come crashing down when Amit’s mother Shanti ill-treats Radhika. Hating her small-town daughter-in-law, Shanti is determined to break her son’s marriage from Day One. So much so, that Radhika ups and leaves. Amit is unable to forgive his wife (supposedly a courageous woman) for leaving him. Will the hapless couple get back together, ever?


For want of a better word, I had made this the title of the third book in my series, without a clue as to how I was going to play it out. I only knew it was going to be the story of the third sister, Vaishali. Then lockdown happened, and everyone was Grounded; with Vaishali and Avinash stuck with each other as next-door neighbours in a building in Mumbai.
 
He’s totally lost when he’s grounded after returning from abroad, with a time stamp on the back of his hand insisting that he should not come in contact with another human being. Having no clue how to even heat water, he is saved from not only starvation, but also loneliness, by his beautiful neighbour. He falls in love, but she’s dead set against marriage. Will Avinash ever find happiness with the love of his life?

All three books in this series are available on Kindle, and can be read for free on Kindle Unlimited. 



 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: F for FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE

 

Sachin is a poor little rich kid who goes the wrong way when he befriends people who are only interested in his money. He has a tough time kicking his drug habit, but somehow manages the near impossible feat. 

Grabbing his new life in both hands, he adopts a baby boy and sets up a gym; breaking off with his parents who are simply not interested in their only son, and heir.

Bina is an international model who falls sick. Taking a long break, she goes back to live with her parents; shocked out of her wits when she finds out that she had been adopted when she was barely three weeks old. Heartbroken and unreasonable, she kicks out at anyone and everyone who comes within a few feet of her.

Will the two broken souls be able to help each other out? Read my book FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE to find out for yourself.  


Story-in-Brief: 

Sachin turns over a new leaf… after a quarter century of living the life of an angry little rich boy. After all, his parents don’t give a damn about their only son once they complete their duty of bringing an heir into the world. These days, he has an adopted son to love and care for.

But what about Sachin himself? Is there no one to love him in this big wide world?

International model Bina is not only physically ill, but also suffers from a broken heart when she discovers that her parents aren’t her own flesh and blood, but have adopted her when she was barely three weeks old.

Bina clashes with Sachin when their paths cross, sparks flying as he’s unable to stop himself from falling headlong in love with her.

Will the angry and frustrated Bina, who’s bogged down by self-pity, understand the love she’s surrounded with? Both from her adoptive parents and Sachin, who is patience personified?

Or will she ignore the tug of her heart every time she lays eyes on the handsome hunk?

You can stalk her @
      

Friday, April 5, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: E for EFFERVESCENT KIARA BAKSHI

 

Arjun Mathur, from ARJUN’S PENANCE, isn’t what he used to be a decade ago, when I first introduced the young man in An Autograph for Anjali, the book which belongs to his mother, Anjali. Those days, he was a cheerful, upbeat, supportive son, not only to his adoring mother, but also to his arrogant and insensitive father. Arjun doesn’t lose his cool even when his father is murdered, so much so, that he’s able to forgive the murderer without too much difficulty.
 
But now, Arjun is an embittered and cutthroat businessman, without a shade of compassion. It appears as if he has locked away his heart and thrown out the key.

I realised he not only needed a partner who is sensitive and empathetic, but also someone who is EFFERVESCENT—read bubbly and cheerful; and that’s how the character of Kiara Bakshi was born.
 
Kiara Bakshi is the perfect Yang to Arjun Mathur’s Yin. Read my book, ARJUN’S PENANCE on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, or Paperback, all available on Amazon. 


Here you go, an excerpt from my novel, to let you know more about the Effervescent Kiara Bakshi:

Kiara knocked on the door and entered when a voice invited her to, “Come in”. Entering, Kiara blinked when bright sunlight hit her face, almost blinding her as she looked at the person sitting behind the huge office desk, working on his laptop. But she couldn’t see beyond a vague outline. Presuming he must be the MD, she said, “Good morning, Mr Mathur.”

“Please have a seat, Ms Bakshi. Mudit should be here soon. We’ll start the meeting immediately after that.” Arjun didn’t look up at the woman who walked forward to sit in one of the visitors’ chairs in front of his desk.

“Thanks,” Kiara responded in a soft voice as she settled down in the chair. Blinking a couple of times, she got adjusted to the brightness before staring at the man behind the desk. He wore a dark blue suit teamed with a pristine white shirt and a silver-grey tie which had blood red motifs. His hair was brushed back neatly from his broad forehead, his eyebrows dark and thick. She couldn’t see his eyes as he was engrossed in his work. But she couldn’t miss the heavy eyelids and long, curling eyelashes any woman would die to have. A strong jawline, lean cheeks which were clean shaven and a square chin with a tiny cleft right in the middle made up the rest of the man’s face. As for his lips—Kiara’s gaze went wide as she ignored his thin upper lip when she noticed the sensual lower one. A man of infinite passion! She suppressed the giggle which rose in her throat, bringing her gaze down to her hands as they lay on her lap. For one with a chirpy nature, it was difficult to sit quiet and remain solemn. 

But Mudit had warned her. He had told her how serious his boss was; that Arjun Mathur wouldn’t tolerate her lively sense of humour. Indeed! Forget about his tolerance level, it looked like the man wasn’t even aware that there was another person sitting right across his table.

“Coffee or tea?”

“Huh?” Kiara looked up, startled. “You said something?” Her mouth opened in a moue when she looked into his honey brown gaze and felt herself drowning in it. Oh my God! If his lips were drool worthy, his eyes were heart wrenching for want of a better expression. 

“Ms Bakshi!” Arjun raised his voice to get her attention, a frown of irritation on his forehead. The woman was dumb or what? 

“I’m sorry! You were saying?” Kiara reined in her racing thoughts to ask him.

“Will you have coffee or tea?”

“Coffee, please.”

Mudit walked in after knocking, saying, “Sorry to keep you waiting, Arjun, Kiara.”

Arjun waved him into the seat next to Kiara even as he lifted the phone to ask for three coffees.

“Hey, what’s up?” Kiara gave Mudit a grin, her gamine face lighting up when she saw his friendly face. It was such a relief after staring at the MD’s grim countenance over the last five minutes.

“All good. I’m glad you could make it despite your busy schedule, Kiara,” said Mudit warmly.

“Shuddup! Don’t be so damn formal.” Kiara gave him a familiar pat on his forearm just as Arjun turned towards them.

“Arjun, this is Kiara Bakshi. I know you both have met, but let me give you some background. Kiara and I have been neighbours forever. And I can tell you she’s the best hacker there is. She…

Arjun lifted a hand to stop Mudit mid-sentence. “This is the ethical hacker you spoke to me about?” She looked like a kid out of school. What the hell would she know about hacking? Arjun looked at her properly for the first time after she entered his cabin. With corkscrew curls which tumbled down her slender shoulders, her dark eyes dancing with mischief, her lips in a permanent pout, her pixie face was maybe the cutest he had ever set eyes on. But that was all the more reason for him to know that she was absolutely unsuitable for the work he needed done. “But… but she’s a kid. I don’t think she will do justice to…”

“Just a minute here.” Kiara raised her left hand to stop Arjun mid-sentence even as she gripped Mudit’s forearm with her right, not at all keen that he defend her. Facing the managing director of the Mathur Group of Industries head on, she continued, “I don’t plan to tell you my age. But my credentials should speak for themselves.” She turned to Mudit. “I sent you my bio. Haven’t you shared it with your MD?” Again, before Mudit could reply, she said, “Okay, I see I have to prove myself here.” She quickly took out her laptop and placing it on the table, booted it.

“Listen, Ms Bakshi, I don’t have the time for this…”

“Five minutes. I just need five minutes of your time. You can throw me out after that.” Kiara didn’t look up at Arjun when she spat out the words, her focus on her laptop screen. Barely three minutes later, she smiled when Arjun’s phone pinged. Looking him straight in the eye, she said, “I think you have mail.”

With his frown growing deeper by the second, Arjun checked his phone. There was a mail saying that he had signed into his email using a new device. Clenching his jaw, he glared at the grinning Kiara. “What does this mean?”

“I just hacked into your email account.”

Arjun jumped up from his chair, snarling, “Get out. How can you bring her here, Mudit? You…”

Kiara lifted her hand, once again stopping Arjun mid-sentence. “You wanted to know if I am a good hacker and I just proved it. Shouldn’t you be welcoming me with open arms instead of chucking me out of your office?” 

Arjun spluttered, having a difficult time holding on to his temper. But he couldn’t deny the logic in her words. Her black eyes danced even as her wide lips stretched even wider in a grin. Arjun bit his lip hard to stop the sudden smile which threatened to break out on his face. Yes, he had to agree she was good. But that didn’t mean he was going to welcome her with a smile. With a tight look on his face, he admitted, “You’re right, Ms Bakshi, welcome on board.” 

Kiara thrust her hand across the table, “Let’s shake hands on that. And thanks, Arjun Mathur.” She was impressed by the way he had admitted she was right.

Arjun, who had already turned to speak to Mudit, looked at her outstretched hand. Not having a choice, he took it in his to give it a shake, startled by the shot of electric current which passed from her hand to his. He quickly snatched his hand away and plopped down on his chair with a thud. 

What the hell had happened just now?! 


Thursday, April 4, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: D for DANCE WITH ME

 

DANCE WITH ME is the title of one of my romance novels. This is the second book in the series called Bollywood Bros, and is available on Kindle, and can be read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

This is the story of award-winning dance choreographer, Rajiv Chandhok, who is from an old Bollywood family based in Mumbai. He decides that a love match is not for him when he sees the trauma his younger brother Vivaan (Hero, Sing For Me, Bollywood Bros, Book 1) undergoes when the latter falls in love. 

Rajiv speaks to his parents and persuades them to arrange his marriage in true Indian style. 

Does that mean his arranged match will fair better than his brother’s love match? Read the story to find out what happens. 


Story-in-Brief

An arranged marriage...

At a meeting set up by common friends of the family, it’s instant attraction for Bollywood choreographer Rajiv from Mumbai, when he sets eyes on the beautiful Inaaya from Raipur. Inaaya feels drawn to a man for the first time in her life when she meets Rajiv.

Deeper feelings invoked…

The duo falls under each other’s spell during the few times they meet even before they tie the knot, but are still not sure enough to admit their feelings for one another.

Then the axe falls… creating a rift between the couple 

Despite that, the physical desire between them rages on. But is that enough? Will the hapless duo ever connect on other levels? Or will they go their separate ways?

You can stalk her @
      

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: C for CHIRAG BHATIA

 

In this post, I am introducing you to a protagonist from my book, called AQUARIUS REBEL, which is from my Written in the Stars 6-book series. 

Chirag is not only a handsome hunk, but an intelligent and successful businessman who owns and runs an ad agency in Delhi. The youngest of three siblings, the commitment-phobic Sagittarius is happy to let his older sisters provide the grandchildren for his parents to play with, while he himself prefers to lead the life of a fun-loving bachelor.  

It’s deep attraction at first sight when he meets Shreya from South Africa at a party (Leo’s Desire) held at his friend’s place. It isn’t long before they enter into a rocking affair which lasts the better part of four years, as they continue to be in a long-distance relationship.

He doesn’t want to commit to long-term (read permanent)… until he receives Shreya’s wedding invitation, to someone else. 


To let you know more about CHIRAG BHATIA, I bring you a sample chapter from my book:

PROLOGUE


Ambika and Sunil Udhas have great pleasure in inviting you to the wedding of their daughter SHREYA, with… 

“NO!” 

His face draining of colour, Chirag Bhatia shouted the word as he forcefully threw his cell phone on the sofa in one corner of his office, not far from where he was standing at the window. His heart thumped heavily, sweat forming on his forehead and upper lip as he fumed. He had just got to know that Shreya, his girlfriend of four years, his fuck buddy, the woman he was having a long-distance affair with, was getting married. The invitation was a forward from her younger sister, Aadhira. 

But why? How?
  
And no, Chirag didn’t want to know the date, or the name of the man who was the bridegroom. That wasn’t the reason for him losing his temper.
 
Chirag had been sure that Shreya wasn’t keen on marriage, same as himself. And she had been thwarting all her mother’s efforts to push her into wedded bliss.
 
While he lived in Delhi, India, she was based in Durban, South Africa. But the distance hadn’t mattered during the four years they had known each other.
 
In the beginning, all Chirag had been interested in, was a brief fling. Shreya was not only beautiful with a gorgeous figure, but she was also extremely intelligent and Chirag had been totally drawn to her right from the start. He had been confident that their affair would run its course. But it hadn’t, not even after four years. 

Then why the hell had she agreed to marry some other man? Chirag was all set to blow his top. Agreed, he hadn’t shown interest in tying the knot with her. But neither had she. If she had… Chirag paused for a few moments. What would I have done if she had told me she was interested in getting married?
 
He shook his head to himself, not very sure. Would he have offered to marry her? Was he ready for marriage? From the day Shreya entered his life, Chirag had not glanced at another woman, at least not in a flirtatious light. In fact, he had not even felt an urge to check out women, young or old; beautiful or ugly; not after meeting Shreya.

Did that mean he was in love with her? Chirag did not know. 

One thing he was clear about though—the roiling jealousy he felt at the pit of his abdomen, for the man who was planning to marry Shreya.
 
NO!!!

“Hey, is something wrong?” Nishaan Ahuja (Hero, LEO'S DESIRE), Chirag’s bestie from childhood, walked into the office cabin, startled to see the way Chirag punched his fist into a wall.

“Yes, damn it! My world has fallen apart,” shouted Chirag, turning to glare at Nishaan as if it was all his fault.

“Eh? How come?”

“Shreya is getting married,” said Chirag, his tone suggesting that the world was coming to an end indeed.
 
“So?” Managing to curb a smile, Nishaan gave his best friend a curious glance. He could read all the symptoms of a man in love in Chirag. Only, he had been denying it for all of four years. It looked like the time had come for Chirag to face the truth. 

Chirag was all set to jump down Nishaan’s throat. “What the hell do you mean by that? Didn’t you hear what I said?”

Nishaan shrugged. “Of course, I did. You said that Shreya was getting married. But so what?”

Chirag reached across to catch Nishaan’s jacket collar in both his hands, shaking him, not very successfully. “My Shreya is getting married,” he shouted, his black eyes thunderous as he glared at the other man. 

Nishaan clamped his hands around Chirag’s forearms to pull his hands off his collar. “Is she? Your Shreya, I mean?”

“If you weren’t my best friend, you’d be sporting a black eye by now,” growled Chirag, stepping away from Nishaan, just so that he wasn’t tempted to punch him. Such was the heat of his temper! Couldn’t Nishaan see how terribly hurt he felt by what he saw as Shreya’s duplicity? How could she go behind Chirag’s back and get married? It was only six weeks ago when they had spent four blissful days roaming the streets of Paris, and spending each night making torrid love in their hotel room. She had not breathed a word to him of her plans even at that time. What kind of a woman did that make her? This was betrayal at its height! 

He began pacing the length of his office, his face grim as he wondered about how to deal with the situation. That he still wanted Shreya was obvious. Their love affair was over by no means. And she couldn’t simply walk out on him like this. 

Nishaan plonked himself down on one of the visitors’ chairs in front of Chirag’s desk and called the office kitchen for some coffee and sandwiches. “I’m famished,” he declared in the way of explanation when Chirag turned to glare at him with a raised eyebrow. 

“Feel free,” said Chirag, highly sarcastic. Not that it mattered. Nishaan was always welcome in his office and did not have to ask Chirag’s permission for anything. But right now, Chirag needed a punching bag and Nishaan was available.

Nishaan didn’t bother to respond to Chirag’s sarcasm as he watched his friend pace the office angrily, a serene expression on his own face. 

Chirag came over to sit in his office chair when an office boy brought a tray with coffee, along with cheese and chicken sandwiches. “Why are you so quiet?” he asked Nishaan.

Nishaan shrugged. “Didn’t want to disturb you as you appeared deep in thought.”

“Deep in thought, my ass,” growled Chirag, keeping his coffee mug down violently, uncaring when some of the beverage sloshed over into the tray. “I’m going to kill Shreya with my bare hands,” he snarled some more.

“To what purpose?” asked Nishaan calmly, an eyebrow rising in query as he glanced at his friend’s enraged face.

“Huh?” Chirag frowned at Nishaan, trying to wrap his head around the latter’s words. Finally comprehending, he snapped, “Just for the pleasure of it.” 
 
“I thought humping Shreya gave you pleasure enough. What has changed?” asked Nishaan, biting into a sandwich with relish. 

Chirag, who had picked up his coffee mug once again, paused in the middle of carrying it to his lips, to glower at Nishaan. “Do you think it’s funny?” he bit out.

Nishaan shook his head. “Of course not. I’m only trying to understand the situation here. You never wanted to marry Shreya, did you?” he asked gently.

Chirag swallowed the coffee with difficulty as he felt something clog his throat, unfamiliar with the emotion driving him. Realising that he might gag if he had more of the beverage, he returned the mug once again to the tray and stared at Nishaan unseeingly. Suddenly recalling that the other man was expecting an answer from him, he said, “I don’t know, yaar. I really don’t know.” 

Chirag had never associated Shreya and marriage in his life. But then, he had been having so much fun with her that he had not given marriage a thought. Luckily, his parents hadn’t either. It was a good thing he was the youngest of three children, and a male at that. His parents had been busy getting their daughters married off; and later, helping them with the birth of their children. Chirag had three nephews and one niece from his two sisters. 

Nishaan glanced at the pathetic expression on Chirag’s face, feeling rather sorry for him. He could make out that his friend was on the verge of discovering that he had fallen in love with the woman he had been having an affair with. That the relationship had lasted for more than four years must have told Chirag something before now. But it was obvious that Chirag had chosen not to give the prolonged time frame too much thought. And despite being Chirag’s closest friend, Nishaan didn’t think it was his place to point things out to the other man. Nishaan was sure he didn’t want his head bitten off for his efforts. The funny part was that Chirag was the one with the sunny nature. But he appeared driven just now, all set to explode in frustration.
 
“Want to go for a drink?” asked Nishaan.

Chirag stared at Nishaan, a faraway expression in his eyes. Right now, he wanted to be alone as he tackled his abject misery at what he considered to be Shreya’s treachery. Forgetting all about Nishaan, he went to get his phone from where it was lying on the corner sofa to check the date of her wedding. A deep sigh shuddered through his lean frame when he saw it was to be held after three months, and in Durban. He scrolled up the invite to see if there was any information about the bridegroom. He clenched his jaw hard when he noticed that it was someone called Reyansh Bhargav based in Durban itself. Grr!

“Chirag?” Nishaan tried to garner his friend’s attention.

Chirag looked up from his phone blankly, as if wondering what Nishaan was doing in his office. Suddenly recalling that the latter wanted to go out for a drink, he said, “You go on, yaar. I’m not in the mood,” his mouth drooping at the corners.

Nishaan was torn, wondering if he should leave Chirag alone in this melancholic mood. But then, he respected that the other man wanted to be by himself. The reason why Nishaan had gone over to Chirag’s office was to share some news from his side; that he and his long-time girlfriend Chaahat Wadhwa, had finally set a date for their wedding. But Nishaan realised that the present time was not the right one to share his good news with his best friend. It will wait, as the date was set for two months from now.  

“If you’re sure,” said Nishaan, getting up. He walked across to Chirag and patted his shoulder. “I’m sure things will work out for the best.”

“From when did you become a philosopher?” asked Chirag, glowering at the other man.

Nishaan gave him a grin. “From the day I met my match.” And he left.

Chirag jumped to his feet, his mind working in a frenzied fashion. His friend Nishaan Ahuja had been a gay bachelor; actually, he still was. Only, these days he had a steady girlfriend in Chaahat. In fact, Nishaan and Chaahat had been together for five years, all because the two of them were in love. They were even planning to tie the knot soon. 

He paced back and forth, a deep frown on his forehead. “I don’t want to be disturbed,” he snarled when someone knocked on his door before opening it. Seeing his second-in-command, the vice president of his company, he barked, “Go home, Vikrant. I want to think.” He didn’t bother to find out if Vikrant Bakshi (Hero, IS THIS LOVE?) followed his order as he continued to wear down the carpet with his furious pacing. 

“Are you sure, boss?” asked Vikrant, stepping inside to stand next to the door, his legs at ease, and his massive arms crossed over his equally massive chest. While his eyes smiled, he kept his expression stern as he looked at Chirag. The two men went a long way, and had become friends over the years. 

Chirag stopped pacing to glare at Vikrant. “About what?” he snarled. 

“You’re being rude.” 

Chirag sighed, extra loudly. “What do you want?”

It was nothing very important, and Vikrant didn’t want to bother his boss about it, not when it was obvious that Chirag was upset about something. “Forget it. I think there’s trouble in paradise?” asked Vikrant, lifting a thick eyebrow in query.

“Do you think it’s any of your business?” asked Chirag, going to stand in front of the younger man. They both were equally tall and big built as they stood toe to toe.

“The last time that happened, it was my business,” said Vikrant, giving Chirag a cheeky smile.

“Just go, Vik.” Chirag quietened down to speak softly.

“Want some advice?” asked Vikrant.

“Will it be of use if I tell you that I don’t?” Right now, Chirag wouldn’t mind the other man’s advice—after all, Vikrant Bakshi was extremely adept at trouble shooting.

Vikrant laughed softly. “Why don’t you put yourself out of misery and make Shreya Udhas your wife?” His words were gentle, but spoken in a firm voice.

The colour disappeared from Chirag’s face, leaving it pale and haggard. “You seriously think so?” he asked, a stunned expression in his eyes.
 
“Of course, yes, Chirag. Why will I tell you so if I didn’t believe it’s the solution for your unhappiness?”

“Why did you never tell me before, you bastard?” asked Chirag, a pathetic expression on his face. The few times the thought had arisen in him—that maybe he wanted a more permanent relationship with Shreya—he had squashed it mercilessly, every time.

“Why? Because I would like my head to continue to remain attached to my neck; and I would like to keep my job too; in that order. I’ll see you, boss.” Vikrant took an about turn and would have left the cabin, only to stop when he heard Chirag’s anxiously whispered words. 

“But it looks like it’s too late.”

“What? Why?” Vikrant turned right back to face Chirag.

“Her marriage is already fixed with someone else,” said Chirag, his voice bitter as he stared unseeingly at the wall.

“Oh!” Vikrant’s eyes went wide in shock. Thinking on his feet, he said, “When is the wedding?”

“In three months.”

“There’s still time then.” There was utter relief on Vikrant’s face as he looked eagerly at his CEO.

“For what?” Chirag looked at the other man with dull eyes. 

“To stop that wedding and marry her yourself.” Vikrant spoke in an enthusiastic voice. “All the best, boss,” he said, before leaving the cabin. 

Chirag plonked down on the visitors’ chair which was closest to him, burying his face in his hands. Is that what he wanted to do? To make Shreya his wife? He thought of his best friend Nishaan Ahuja. Nishaan was in a happy space—had been from the time he met Chaahat. 

Chirag lifted his face suddenly to stare at the door. He had met Shreya four years ago, and had not looked at another woman after that. Chirag, the man who used to flirt with women of all ages, one who had always had only brief love affairs, had stopped giving other women a second glance. All because Shreya had become the centre of his existence.

And today, receiving the news of her forthcoming marriage, had shaken Chirag to the core of his being. How much ever he wanted to blame Shreya, he didn’t really have the right, did he? He had made no promises to her. Nor had she made any to him. There was no commitment between the two of them, as they met whenever they could and had fun, both in and out of bed.  

But that still didn’t stop him from feeling as if she had made a fool of him. Worse than that, he felt such a deep and unfamiliar anguish in the region of his chest, as if his heart was being squeezed, hard.

Chirag gasped loudly, when his mind threw up the most bizarre possibility. No, he wouldn’t admit even to himself that this was not the first time he had thought about this being the case.  

Have I fallen in love?